Fifty days into the Mount Polley Mine breach, tourism operators are wondering where the government is, NDP leader John Horgan said.
“If you google Quesnel Lake, you are going to get pages and pages of pictures of the disaster,” Horgan told the Tribune Tuesday after spending Monday touring the mine and meeting with tourism operators in the region.
“Eco-tourism operators are very concerned that the government is not responding to their request for bridge financing so they can start marketing the place again.”
Horgan had visited Likely the day after the mine breach to make connections, and decided it was time to get back there and see how people are doing.
“We are going to have to tell the story of the Cariboo and the wilderness experiences available there,” Horgan said, but emphasized it cannot be about putting a new face on a bad day.
The day after the tailings breach Horgan asked the government for all documentation about the mine and said the opposition has yet to receive anything, other than a copy of the permit which was released three weeks after the spill.
“Even the privacy commissioner said quite clearly if health and safety are in question government has a responsibility to release the information,” Horgan said. “The consequences of the failure will have an impact for years to come and the government needs to be there doing something.
“We’ve heard nothing but powerful platitudes and nothing from government about what’s going to happen with the mine in the future.
“We are all concerned about the livelihoods of the people who work there and the surrounding communities.”
Katrine Conroy, NDP spokesman on Interior Economic Development, said everyone she talks to in B.C. who is involved with mining industry has told her the Mount Polley Mine breach puts the entire industry back years.
“Everything is being delayed and people are asking what’s happening with the mine in their backyard?” she said. “People have concerns that mines need to be run safely. This shouldn’t have happened.”
Horgan, along with Conroy, and Stephen Hunt, director of United Steelworkers Union District 3, were on the tour with Imperial Metals vice-president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson and saw work that’s been done at the site to mitigate the breach.